Four Tennessee football players were selected in this year’s Sports Illustrated preseason All-SEC team that was released on Wednesday.
The Vols that were included on the team were OG Trey Smith, OT Cade Mays, LB Henry To’o To’o and PK Brent Cimaglia. These players were joined by some of the top players in college football. Including LSU’ WR Ja’Marr Chase, Florida TE Kyle Pitts, and the Alabama trio of Alex Leatherwood, Dylan Mosley, and Patrick Surtain III.
There is little to no argument that Smith is the highest rated player among the four players that were selected for the Vols. Despite getting attention from NFL scouts, Smith announced back in January that he was returning for his senior season.
The Jackson, Tenn. native was named in the All-SEC team in 2019 and 2017. Being viewed as one of the top targets for 2021 NFL draft, Smith will not only be expected to make the All-SEC team by the end of the 2020 season, but the All-America team too.
Mays was another offensive lineman that was selected from the Big Orange. The Knoxville native spent his first two seasons playing for rival Georgia. Mays played all 14 games for the Bulldogs in 2019, seeing playing time in every position.
Even though Mays saw playing time, the junior announced in January that he would be joining his brother Cooper on Rocky Top. Mays was also named on 2020 Sporting News preseason All-American team.
To’o To’o is the only defensive player to be on the All-SEC list for the Vols. The linebacker made an immediate impact for the Vols last fall. The rising sophomore finished second in tackles with 72 while starting 12 games. The Sacramento native’s 72 tackles was ranked second among freshmen in the SEC and fourth among FBS freshmen.
To’o To’o became the first freshman to start at linebacker for a Tennessee season opener since AJ Johnson and Curt Maggitt in 2011. He ended the 2019 season earning freshman All-SEC and freshman All-American honors.
Senior kicker Cimaglia is also the only player on the Vols’ special teams to make the preseason list. Cimaglia ended the 2019 season with having one of the greatest seasons ever by a Tennessee kicker. He went 23-of-27 in field goals that included a 51 and 53-yarder. His 85.2 field goal percentage was ranked second in the SEC and was ranked first among kickers who attempted more than 20.
Cimaglia’s 23 made field goals is ranked third best in UT single season annals and is the most since Carlos Reviz connected 24 in 1985. The senior from Nashville is also a candidate for the 2020 Lou Groza award.